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Letters to the editor: It’s time to reform Canada’s ‘Robin Hood’ equalization system

National Post readers speak out on the issues of the day, including how (or whether) to 'equalize' provinces

A national debate on rethinking Canada’s equalization system, whereby "have-not" provinces receive cash from "have" provinces, is long overdue, a reader writes.

‘Robbing Peter to pay Paul’

Re: Albertans should vote ‘yes’, Jack M. Mintz, Oct. 15

If nothing else, the growing impasse between so-called “have and have-not” provinces points yet again to the need to get serious about reforming Canada’s terminally broken “Robin Hood” system of “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

In what has by now deteriorated into a national “free-for-all” of runaway provincial “entitlement,” our myopic preoccupation with all manners of redistributing Canada’s national wealth base merely continues to “equalize” the whole country to the lowest common denominator of the economic welfare state, leaving “have-not” provinces in a perpetual state of economic dependence … while “have” provinces, like Alberta, somehow become charity cases.

Originally designed to make government services available to Canadians equally across the country, not even the most rationally convincing statistics on regional economic performance have been able to subdue the passionate backlash that has dogged all efforts to reform a system that has long been hijacked by the political clout of provincial demographics and the partisan dictates of electoral politics.

No doubt, George Bernard Shaw had those all-important electoral politics of “equalization” in mind when he said:

“A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.”

Indeed, the Alberta referendum initiative on equalization could provide a national forum for a long overdue national debate on rethinking Canada’s Robin Hood equalization subsidization regime.

Edward Bopp, Tsawwassen, B.C.

I am not from Alberta but I understand Albertans’ frustration with the equalization payments. Why is Quebec considered a “have-not” province? It prefers to buy foreign oil rather than allowing Canadian oil to flow to Quebec. It passes bills that limit the language rights of its citizens. Its language laws inhibit many companies from staying in Quebec or coming to Quebec. If Quebec wants to inhibit businesses and reduce its taxable community, why should the rest of Canada have to subsidize it?

B. A. Cantlie, Etobicoke, Ont.

‘A slap in the face of the electorate’

Re: House of Commons vaccine mandate tramples over rights of MPs, John Ivison, Oct. 20

The decision to bar MPs from the House of Commons based on their vaccination status cannot be allowed to stand. Preventing democratically elected MPs from accessing their workplace not only robs the MP of the ability to do their job, it robs their constituents of proper representation — the very backbone of Canadian democracy. If protecting people from COVID-19 is the objective, the Board of Internal Economy could have done this by means other than forcing people to do something they are not able in good conscience to do — submitting to a regular rapid test being the most obvious.

It’s one thing to keep unvaccinated Canadians from enjoying a night out at a restaurant or taking in a Leafs game. But preventing Canadians from participating in our government? Not only is it unacceptable, it’s also a slap in the face of the electorate and shows contempt for democracy itself.

Ryan Mans, Smithville, Ont.

From Nov. 22 anyone inside the House of Commons precinct must be fully vaccinated, including MPs, their staff, journalists and administrative employees.
From Nov. 22 anyone inside the House of Commons precinct must be fully vaccinated, including MPs, their staff, journalists and administrative employees. Photo by Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press/File

‘Justice is very hard to come by in Canada’

Re: Judge finds Ontario women were defamed in social media firestorm over alleged George Floyd post, Oct. 20

It would seem to me that there should have been several other defendants in this case: the social media platform, and the employers.

Traditionally, both the author and the newspaper would be sued, the latter for allowing the libel to be published — why should social media be any different? And I would suggest that social media companies should be required to have a compensation fund for those injured by what they post. In this case the defendant is judgment-proof, but why should the plaintiff be deprived of a remedy?

Equally, persons or employers who fire first and ask questions later should not get off the hook. It should not be necessary for a libelled person to have to join every entity that acted on the libel. The judgment should be accepted as prima facie proof.

As a lawyer of over 40 years’ standing, it is clear to me that justice is very hard to come by in Canada.

Michael Johnson, Oakville Ont.

‘Words matter’

Re: An Alberta court’s wrongheaded order to compel anti-vaxxers to refute their own opinions, Editorial, Oct. 16

There is no such thing as absolute freedom of speech. We witness all around us an abuse and subjectivity toward our freedoms. On one hand there is cancel culture that is suppressing expression and then on the other hand is the media which most people view as generally sensationalist, irresponsible and not driven by facts but by clicks.

In this crazy world we are living in, how refreshing it was to hear from a judge being responsible for the betterment of society, to suggest that if the accused are going to express their opinions let them at least qualify their statements during a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, that their statements about vaccines are in conflict with the scientific consensus and majority medical opinion. This is a fact and not controversial. The judge did not say they are not allowed to express themselves but rather recommended a truthful presentation. We would be living in a much better world if we all took responsibility for our communications. Words matter.

Richie Cohen, Toronto

Kudos for Alphonso Davies feature

Re: ‘You knew this kid was destined for greatness’: Alphonso Davies’s rapid rise to soccer stardom, Derek Van Diest, Oct. 16

It was delightful to read your headline story on Canadian soccer phenomenon Alphonso Davies. Our family dinner was filled with awe and enthusiasm as we read together his inspiring story as a former refugee and now, Canadian super patriot and greatest male footballer.

Derek Van Diest did a remarkable job telling this story. In this day and age of destructive wokism, these inspiring stories make for refreshing and informative reading. Keep up the tremendous work.

David and Sonja Leis, Abbotsford, B.C.

Canada’s Alphonso Davies (right) takes the ball past Honduras’ Andy Najar during the first half World Cup qualifying action in Toronto, on Sept. 2, 2021.
Canada’s Alphonso Davies (right) takes the ball past Honduras’ Andy Najar during the first half World Cup qualifying action in Toronto, on Sept. 2, 2021. Photo by Chris Young/The Canadian Press

Prince William needs to read more

Re: William Shatner goes where no nonagenarian has gone before, Matt Gurney, Oct. 14

When Prince William says, “Great minds should focus on saving Earth not space travel,” he dumbs down complex challenges, placing them into sound bytes that cannot inspire to do and know better.

Space-based technologies, such as remotely sensed data, have enhanced scientific understanding of water cycles, air quality, forests and other aspects of the natural environment. These surveying and monitoring tools provide valuable information on the state of ecosystems, which offers objective support for positive environmental action, including conservation and sustainable resource management.

From trapping greenhouse gases to Conserving energy, those “billionaires'” efforts are contributing to discoveries that enable us to find answers that efficiently help us.

His Royal Highness needs to read more.

William Perry, Victoria

Selling conservatism in Canada

Re: Is it time for the Tories to break up with Alberta? Kelly McParland, Oct. 12

It seems Kelly McParland wants the Tories to become liberals. That would lead to Liberal party governments forever, as conservatives, especially social conservatives, will move to the PPC and split the conservative vote. A better solution is to have Conservatives find a way to sell conservativism to a public that is drowned in left-wing propaganda through the media. Of course, with the Liberals plotting to end free/conservative speech on the web, we’ll see how long that can be done.

Byron Perry, Oakville, Ont.

A dose of Murphy

Re: It’s a miracle! Apparently climate crusaders are immune to COVID!, Rex Murphy, Oct. 16; and More reasons some Canadians distrust the powers-that-be, Rex Murphy, Sept. 30

If our politicians (regardless of which nation they purport to be serving) actually ever wonder why some of their citizens distrust them, they would only need a regular dose of Rex Murphy’s writings to understand.

Tim Harkema, Calgary

Would it not be ironic if our aristocratic global warming warriors were unable to fly to Glasgow because all the airline pilots had been fired for not having had the COVID vaccine?

Derek Frew, Vancouver

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The rich and their spoils

Re: How Trudeau wasted a chance to spark Canadian economic growth during the pandemic, John Ivison, Oct. 16

I wholeheartedly agree that the spoils of the rich must be distributed to the less fortunate. But before we are able to do that, we have to allow the rich to generate the spoils.

Robert B. Kalina, Oakville, Ont.

‘Do as little actual ESG-ing as possible’

Re: ESG is unnecessary and harmful, Matthew Lau, Oct 13

Years ago, it was taken for granted, at least in the West, that the benefits of private property should accrue to its owners. Now, however, the reignited Marxist romance of the left is leading activist pressure to upend these private property rights. ESG proponents argue that some of the benefits from corporate ownership should be spread to people other than the owners. Until society wakes up to the damaging influence of the far-left “Build Back Better” agenda, business is forced to at least pay ESG lip service to avoid activist boycotts and other disruptions to their operations. So the best approach would seem to be: strongly advertise ESG efforts while doing as little actual ESG-ing as possible.

Alex MacMillan, Kingston, Ont.

Respecting Colin Powell

Re: Colin Powell was a patriot who left an indelible mark on his country, Michael Taube, Oct. 18

Colin Powell said his decision to support America’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a “painful” experience. I respect him for that admission. One fatally wrong decision should not overrule an otherwise stellar career.

The invasion was rushed, launched before the work of the United Nations team investigating evidence for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was completed. It found no weapons of mass destruction. The invasion still went ahead, to wipe out Saddam Hussein.

The Iraq war was arguably America’s biggest foreign-policy blunder since the Vietnam War. That was compounded by the disbanding of the Iraqi army and the Ba’ath Party. These were the glue that had kept Iraq together despite its religious, ethnic, regional and other divisions. The Iraq war did irreparable damage to the security of the Middle East and the rest of the world.

Reiner Jaakson, Oakville, Ont.

Colin Powell, a U.S. war hero and the first Black secretary of state, has died of complications from COVID-19, his family said on Oct. 18, 2021. He was 84.
Colin Powell, a U.S. war hero and the first Black secretary of state, has died of complications from COVID-19, his family said on Oct. 18, 2021. He was 84. Photo by TIM SLOAN/AFP via Getty Images

Defund the CBC

Re: On climate change, the CBC has crossed the line from news agency to PMO mouthpiece, Rex Murphy, Oct. 20

The CBC is a far-left entity that we’re all paying for. It needs to be defunded and made to run on its own steam or shut down.

Robert Burton, Vancouver

Advisory Committee on the Charitable Sector clarifies its position

Re: Charitable foundations are preventing money from going to those who need it. Something needs to change, John Hallward, Oct. 12

In a recent op-ed related to changes to the Disbursement Quota (DQ), the author misstates a key position by the Advisory Committee on the Charitable Sector (ACCS).

The DQ is the minimum amount (3.5 per cent) a registered charity is required to spend from the assets that it does not otherwise use for charitable activities or administration (i.e., investment assets). In response to a request from the Department of Finance, the ACCS responded by stressing that “We agree with the goal of supporting organizations who are providing service to the most vulnerable. However, we must begin by noting that the DQ is but one tool in the policy toolbox. We do not believe that there is clear evidence to suggest that simply raising the disbursement quota alone, without using other policy tools, will achieve that goal.”

While not recommending a specific change to the DQ, the ACCS did not oppose a change nor did it recommend that the DQ not be changed. The approach taken by the ACCS was to highlight the probable disconnect between the desire to support organizations working with the most vulnerable communities and raising the DQ as the sole policy intervention. That change alone will not affect where funds are being invested.

Hilary Pearson and Bruce MacDonald, Co-Chairs, ACCS

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